Before I begin, I would like to ask Crist to avert her eyes – the following savory recipe contains both peanuts AND peanut butter, and I would hate to offend her delicate sensibilities. (For the record, I have already received a hateful comment from her regarding this recipe, when I posted a photo on Instagram. She will go to any length to remind that she thinks peanuts in savory food are gross. I HEAR YOU, CRIST, I JUST DON’T CARE.)
Anyways! This recipe was a big hit in my house. The peanut sesame noodles are really flavorful, but not overwhelming or heavy (which I’ve found is hard to accomplish when you’re working with a peanut butter based sauce), and the meatballs have a great sweetness to them that plays off the saltiness of the peanuts really well. I will be making this again, for sure.
Now, I cannot lie to you – this recipe is not exactly quick (it took me about an hour and ten minutes), and it does have a lot of ingredients (but nothing highly unusual, and most of the ingredients are pantry items, if you’ve ever done any Asian cooking), but it is worth it. I already had about half of the Asian ingredients in this recipe (sesame oil, rice wine vinegar), and invested about another $8 to pick up the rest (mirin, fish sauce, teriyaki sauce). Not a ton of cash, and those bottles will last through another 15 recipes, at least.
Before I lay out the recipe, I’m gonna tell you the order in which I did everything. It’s kind of a lot of parts and a lot of steps, and it can feel like you’re trying to do 18 things at once if you don’t go in with a plan. So, here is the plan I used (feel free to ignore it and do your own thing), and then I’ll put the actual recipes below. I worked out this plan of action so that I’d have all my ingredients just ready and waiting to be cooked, without having to stop and mince up some garlic, or forgetting to put the pasta water on until the meatballs were almost done; additionally, pre-planning all my steps allowed me to only use ONE large pan (as opposed to three), so I’d have fewer items to hand-wash when I was done cooking. I’d recommend reading through all the steps and all the recipes long before you get started, so you can wrap your brain around everything that has to get done.
1.) Prep all the ingredients that require chopping/mincing – mince your shallot, garlic, and scallion for the peanut sauce and put it into a small bowl. Mince your garlic and scallion, and grate your ginger for your meatballs, and place those ingredients into another small bowl.
2.) Prep all your liquid ingredients – in one bowl, mix all the liquids you need for the peanut sauce (including the peanut butter). In another, mix all the liquids you’ll need for the sauce for the meatballs.
3.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Put your pasta water on to boil; once you do that, start mixing your meatball mixture, and shaping your meatballs. I lined a baking sheet with foil, and put the meatballs onto it as I went – that way, I’d have someplace to keep them until I was ready to cook them, and when I was done, I could just ball up the foil and throw it away, and I didn’t need to wash the baking sheet.
4.) Brown the meatballs in a pan. Once they are all browned and ready to go into the oven, drop your pasta into the (well-salted, boiling) water, and then put the meatballs into the oven.
5.) Use the same pan you browned the meatballs in to make your peanut noodles (no need to wipe it out or wash it). When you have about 3 minutes left before the pasta is done, add a tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan (which you should have over medium-low heat), and add the minced vegetables for the sauce to the pan. Let those saute a bit and soften up, then pour in your prepped peanut mixture. At this point, your pasta should be done, and you can take it straight from the pasta pot and plop it into your pan with the sauce. Toss the sauce and noodles together, and let them cook together over medium-low heat for a couple minutes, until the sauce thickens up and really coats the noodles.
6.) At this point, your meatballs should be ready! Pull them out of the oven, sprinkle your noodles with sesame seeds and extra scallions for garnish, and plate everything up!
So now that you’ve got a method to the cooking madness, let’s talk about the ingredients required to MAKE everything.
Sesame Peanut Noodles
(both this recipe, and the meatball recipe, were adapted from here)
2/3 lb spaghetti (I used the Barilla Plus whole wheat noodles – I like them better than any other whole wheat pasta)
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 scallion, white and light green parts, minced*
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil + 1 T for cooking
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 t sesame seeds, for garnish
1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped, for garnish
*you can mince an additional 1 or 2 scallions for garnish, if you’d like
1.) Cook pasta according to packages directions.
2.) Saute shallot, garlic, and scallion in 1 T sesame oil until they are softened. Whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth, and then add to the pan.
3.) Add the pasta into the sauce, and let it cook in the sauce for another 1-2 minutes, until the sauce thickens and coats the noodles.
Ginger and Scallion Chicken Meatballs
1 pound ground chicken
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, white and light green parts, minced
1 T grated ginger
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 t mirin
1 t teriyaki sauce
2 T mirin
3 T teriyaki sauce
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T grated ginger
1 t fish sauce
1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Place egg, garlic, scallion, ginger, mirin and teriyaki sauce into a bowl, and whisk together.
2.) Add the chicken, and gently combine it with the other ingredients (use your hands) until everything is evenly distributed. Add your breadcrumbs, and mix them in. If the mixture still seems a bit wet and sloppy, add another 1/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs.
3.) Shape meatballs that are a bit smaller than a golfball (I got 17 out of my mixture).
4.) Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat, and put about 2 T of vegetable oil in the bottom. Once the oil is hot, place your meatballs into the oil, being careful not to crowd them (I browned mine in two batches). The oil will splatter a bit as they cook, so I used a splatter guard to contain the splatters.
5.) Let the meatballs brown for about 2 minutes on the first side, and then turn them. Continue to let them brown for another 2 minutes or so, and then turn them again. Once they are golden brown on the third side, remove them to a foil-lined baking dish, and start your second batch.
6.) Once all your meatballs are browned and placed into the baking dish, lower the heat in your pan to low, and let it cool for a minute. Pour your pre-mixed sauce ingredients into the pan – it will likely bubble a lot and make a bit of noise, so just be careful to pour away from yourself, and to stand back. Let the mixture bubble for about 30 seconds, then pour it over the meatballs in the baking dish. Cover the baking dish with foil, and place it in the oven – bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
So, if you followed the plan of action at the top of this post, your sesame peanut noodles should be ready just at the same time as your meatballs! Put a pile of noodles on your plate, sprinkle some extra sesame seeds and scallions on top to make it look pretty, and then pile your meatballs on top of all that. Make sure you roll the meatballs around in their sauce before you plate them, so they are coated on all sides!
As I said, there’s kind of a lot going on with this recipe, but it’s really pretty simple once you get into it – a lot of small, easy steps. And trust me, it is WORTH IT. The flavors in this dish are intense, but delicate at the same time – it doesn’t taste heavy or overpowering. It’s a great twist on a traditional meal of spaghetti and meatballs; a little something to liven up the usual weekday menu!
Peanuts: they’re what’s for dinner,